Highland Park City Council August 3 Primary Candidate Guide

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Get to know the candidates running for Highland Park City Council in the August 3 primary election.

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The August 3 primary is fast-approaching. Get to know the candidates running for local office in your community with 101.9 FM WDET’s Candidate Guides. Surveys were distributed to candidates to complete and you can see the responses for Highland Park City Council Candidates below.

See a full list of races covered here.

Jump to a candidate:
Deblon Jackson
Michelle R. Jones
Glenda M. McDonald
V. Ricardo Thomas


Courtesy of Deblon Jackson
Courtesy of Deblon Jackson

Deblon Jackson

Age: 63

Current Job: Real Estate Agent, Insurance Sales Producer, and Professional Musician  

Education: Graduated from Highland Park High School 1975, Graduated from the Cincinnati College-Conservatory of Music 1979

About Deblon Jackson: I enjoy setting up activities that are educational and fun for all residents in Highland Park. It is my hope to have a beautification committee that will create beauty and cleanliness throughout the City of Highland Park. I am an Air Force Veteran and would love to help move the city forward. Make it a wonderful place to live, work, and play.

On October 18, 2021, I was sworn in and appointed to District 1 Highland Park City Council. I have given out masks to all citizens in District 1. I have continuously supported the vaccination program with Wayne County and Highland Park, respectively. I performed on my instrument the Flute to calm the citizens getting vaccinated at the Ernest T. Ford Recreation Center. I was there on the first of vaccination day, which started in January 2021 and continued through spring. Will do again to promote vaccinating. I promoted the first Annual Highland Park Rejuvenation Day and Plant Swap the second Saturday in June, June 12, 2021. Since joining HP City Council October 18, I have helped to pass out or deliver monthly and weekly food support to residents in need in the City of Highland Park. Will continuing helping.

Why are you running for Highland Park City Council? I am running because my mom had to pay $4,000 assessment in order to keep her home that she had paid for along with many other homeowners. There were families that could not pay the high assessment. Those long time Highland Parkers had to move out of their home of many decades. I had to find out what was happening and how could I help. The only way was to get in the middle and find out. So we zero out the water bills and reset the whole system. Finally, we will be back to the Artesian water resources we had prior to the previous administration.

I am running because my mom had to pay $4,000 assessment in order to keep her home that she had paid for along with many other homeowners. There were families that could not pay the high assessment. Those long time Highland Parkers had to move out of their home of many decades. I had to find out what was happening and how could I help.” — Deblon Jackson

What is the most important issue facing Highland Park? Land Development is necessary to increase the population in Highland Park. There are many jobs coming to Highland Park. Things like housing and a good school system will be necessary for the future.

How would you address that issue? I would center around investors and builders with a proven track record in the industry. Need to also tackle grants that would help move the city forward and other capital. The investors/ builders should understand Historic homes in the area in order to maintain market and historical value. These builders should already have proper insurance bonds. Should have 40 to 50 million dollars in cash reserves minimum to start the project and a plan ready to go. These plans could be talked about at Highland Park City Council Workshop in order to share information and logistics.

What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? 

When the Highland Park City Council drafted the marijuana ordinance. One problem is zoning. Highland Park is only 2.9 square miles. You could have a grow facility adjacent to a church or within 500sq feet of a school. Furthermore, the citizens needed to vote on whether 36 marijuana business licenses would be allowed. More police officers would be needed for the city who pays for this. These are some questions that have never been answered which can help send a city into a financial tailspin.

All of the councilmen voted to pay Councilmen Rodney Patrick’s Legal Fees. Which is illegal.


Courtesy of Michelle Jones
Courtesy of Michelle Jones

Michelle R. Jones

Age: 62

Current job: Currently on staff at Soulardarity, a nonprofit in Highland Park as the Energy Democracy Fellowship Coordinator.

Education: I graduated from the University of Detroit Mercy with a dual Bachelors Degree in Sociology and Religious Studies. I graduated from the Methodist Theological School in Ohio with a dual Masters in Divinity, and Pastoral and Professional Counseling.

About Michelle R. Jones: I am the mother of eight children, grandmother of 14, and I became a widow at the age of 46. I am a member of Revival Tabernacle, the purple church on Woodward Ave. I moved to Highland Park from Detroit in 2019 to be with one of my daughters, and we are leasing and preparing to purchase a beautiful, historical home in the Park. As a young girl, I attended church here (Kendall St. COGIC), and often visited friends who lived here at that time. I must admit, I was skeptical when my daughter informed me that she was moving here. My understanding was that this is no longer the Highland Park I knew as a child. There are many burned-out houses, the streets are dark due to the lack of streetlights, and a multitude of abandoned buildings that had once been flourishing businesses. But Highland Park has a way of surprising those who choose to open their eyes. The sweet smell of honeysuckle on my morning walks, the rabbit that shows up in my backyard to nibble on flowers, the neighbors that wave and speak all pulled me in and I fell in love with the Park.

Why are you running for Highland Park City Council? I am running for Highland Park City Council because I have had opportunities to speak with other residents in the city and I find there is a consensus that they feel their voices are not heard. I am concerned as to why the city is yet dark after ten years, why the library has been allowed to fall into such a delipidated state, why landlords are allowed to have houses that are empty and need repair when there are people interested in renting or purchasing the homes, and why people outside of the Park are comfortable racing down the streets and endangering our children and also dumping their garbage in our city.  I have experienced the apprehension when there is a thunderstorm because the power may be out for days, and wonder if there is the possibility that we may have a water crisis like Flint. I desire to be a part of the team that seeks to bring positive and productive change to Highland Park.

As a proud Highland Parker, I truly desire to see the Park restored to the beautiful gem that was, and to be an innovative city for the future and that is why I am running for city council.” — Michelle R. Jones

What is the most important issue facing Highland Park? The most important issue facing Highland Park right now is a declining financial base which fuels the majority of the above problems, and the financial base is supported by homeowners and profitable businesses. People tend to be hesitant about purchasing a home or setting up a business in an area where the governing powers have ignored the issues of the current residents and have not made investments that promote the welfare of the area. Having high-quality public schools and library services available for their children is a priority for families. Having well lit streets and a highly visible police force creates an atmosphere of safety for businesses.

How would you address that issue? In order to address the issue of this declining financial base, we must invest time and money into making the necessary changes that will attract families and businesses back to Highland Park in several ways: 1) grant money can be sought out that will help provide streetlights with community-owned solar power while also generating community wealth, 2) grant money can also be sought out to restore the library, providing space for educational programs for adults and youth year around, 3) police presence should be seen in the community on a daily basis, which would make criminals think twice and produce an atmosphere of safety for residents and businesses, and 4) hold the Highland Park School Board accountable for restoring quality public education for all grade levels

This is the short list of things that can help restore Highland Park, but it will only work when we work together. The residents must work with City Council while yet holding them accountable. City Council must find a way to work with the mayor and the school board for the benefit of the city. The mayor must work with and be held accountable by the residents and City Council. If we cannot overcome our differences and come together, others will not invest IN our city but will seek to take over and Highland Park will no longer exist.

What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? The action of the current city government that I disagree with is the promoting of cannabis dispensaries in the city. Highland Park is only 2.9 square miles, and we have lost legitimate prescription stores such as Rite Aid and CVS that are vital to our aging population. The belief that these dispensaries will bring financial investment into the community does not take into account the problems that come along with them: 1) The money never makes it to the community because it is tied up in fees that do not benefit the people, 2) the increase in the crime rate outweighs the desired benefits, 3) most dispensaries do not hire people in the community, and 4) most profitable businesses are not interested in hiring people who are consumers of cannabis. Thus, I do not see this decision as one that is beneficial to the city of Highland Park.

As a proud Highland Parker, I truly desire to see the Park restored to the beautiful gem that was, and to be an innovative city for the future and that is why I am running for city council.


Courtesy of Glenda McDonald
Courtesy of Glenda McDonald

Glenda M. McDonald

Age: 60

Current job: Educator

Education: MA literacy Learning

About Glenda M. McDonald: 

I am a 50 year resident of Highland Park.

I am a graduate of HPCHS and HPCC.

I am the Matriarch of 5 children and 10 grandchildren. 

I am an educator and have served in schools for 30 years.

I am the Founder and CEO of the McDonald PhelpsFoundation, a 501 c 3 charitable organization that service at-risk youth by providing supplementary educational services that will prepare them to return to their communities and give back. 

Political Career:

Elected to the Highland Park Board of Education 2012

Elected to Charter Commission 2014

Elected to City Council as President Pro Tem 2015

Ran for Mayor in 2019

Why are you running for Highland Park City Council? I am running Council to be a voice for the people in District One. Too many citizens that live on the residential streets are not being serviced or heard and it is time for someone to work for the people. Citizens need representation they can depend on to enlighten them on the who, what when and why in the city. Ex. Who do I call? Why are they doing this? Where can I get help for this?

 ”Too many citizens that live on the residential streets are not being serviced or heard and it is time for someone to work for the people.” — Glenda M. McDonald

What is the most important issue facing Highland Park? We have more than one important issue but for me our infrastructure is right at the top of the list. Our lighting, roads and water infrastructure needs attention immediately. 

How would you address that issue? I will address these issues by working closely with our State and Federal Representatives to look for and secure funding for these issues. Funds are becoming available for this issue and we need to be at the table to secure some of those funds.

What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? I disagree with all of the violations of our Charter and think that it should be followed and upheld by everyone that took an oath to defend it.


Courtesy of Elect Victor R. Thomas
Courtesy of Elect Victor R. Thomas

V. Ricardo Thomas

Age: 69

Current job: Bishop and overseer of Faith Tabernacle Church in Highland Park Michigan

Education: I am a graduate of Highland Park High School. I was the Senior Class President and Captain of the Football Team. I attended Oakland University and Wayne State University. I completed four years of study in Biblical Counseling and received certification from Christian Research and Development of Philadelphia, Pennsylvania. I am now an instructor of Biblical Counseling to pastors, church members, and professionals. I also completed the Pastors of Excellence Program at Ashland Theological Seminary (2004-2005).

About V. Ricardo Thomas: I am a man of faith and a servant to God and my family. I am the father of five, grandfather of six, and great-grandfather to one. In addition to being family-oriented, I have a love for my community as well. I am a lifelong Highland Parker and Graduate of the Highland Park school system. I have served the city of Highland Park in numerous capacities including as the Bishop of Faith Tabernacle Church, which has served the Highland Park community for almost 56 years. I am a founding member and former Chairman of the Highland Park Homeowners Collaborative, Founding Member and Vice-President of the Highland Park Business Association for the past 15 years, former Board member of the Development Corporation of Wayne County (EDGE), past Vice- President of the Highland Park Planning and Zoning Commission and a former appointee of the Governor’s Leadership Steering Committee for Highland Park. I serve with these organizations to bring about a difference, have a better quality of life and so that God is glorified as we all have a better place to live, worship, work and do business.

Why are you running for Highland Park City Council? I am running for Highland Park City Council because I would like to take on a greater role in creating the change the people of Highland park so desperately desire and need. I believe that I can be the voice of advocacy that our citizenry yearns for and deserve. I am looking forward to working with others on innovative ways to build a better Highland Park. This includes working to bring new businesses into the city, as well as developing new and existing housing. Long-term residents deserve better, and it is also time to begin leading for future generations. Together we can set up the next generation for success. I am a bridge seeking to connect citizens, leaders, and partners, of multiple generations. I desire to draw our attention away from personal agendas and toward the one key agenda item that we all have in common: The City of Highland Park.

 ”I believe that I can be the voice of advocacy that our citizenry yearns for and deserve. I am looking forward to working with others on innovative ways to build a better Highland Park.” — V. Ricardo Thomas

What is the most important issue facing Highland Park? While many important issues are facing Highland park such as the School Systems, Housing Rehabilitation, and Business Development, one of the more pressing issues that need to be addressed would be the development of infrastructure as it relates to the Water Supply. There are resources that we are in a prime position to receive. We can tap into government resources that will allow our community to thrive, and become sustainable as we transition to operating off of our water supply and outsourcing our overages. This will provide great revenues for our city that would benefit those other key areas mentioned above.

How would you address that issue? As a councilman, I would advocate and network across administrations to ensure we are in a position to receive a part of the $3.5 trillion in funds the United States Federal Government is allocating. I will work to promote, develop, and approve proposals and/or plans of action that would qualify us for the funds, as well as seek reliable partners as we expand our infrastructure.

What actions/decisions by the current mayoral administration or city council have you disagreed with? It is not as important about what I disagree with than it is what can be agreed upon to make Highland Park better going forward. I have found in life that finding fault should never be greater than finding solutions.

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